Disguised government spy irks journalism colegio

The journalist professional organization is miffed because a government security agent pretended to be a television reporter and infiltrated a labor protest in Siquirres.

The organization, the Colegio de Periodistas, said it might file a formal complaint with prosecutors.

The organization is upset equally with Carlos Ricardo Benavides, minister of the Presidencia and other officials for refusing to talk about the affair. The colegio issued a formal protest Wednesday.

The agent appears to have been a member of the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad, which works closely with the executive branch. The man carried fake credentials. El Diario Extra published a photo of the man with credentials dangling from his neck.

Newspeople are sensitive about impostors because what they do may generate a negative reaction against real newspeople.

The security agent was observing and making recordings of individuals engaged in a non-violent protest at Matas de Costa Rica, an ornamental plant exporting firm that owes severance pay to workers.
Diario Extra said the agent claimed taking his photo was prohibited because his identity was a state secret. That happened Jan. 23.

A check of news files shows that police have pretended to be journalists frequently and all over the world. In some cases, they were freeing hostages. In Luxembourg disguised police killed a gunman. In the Philippine, rebels disguised themselves as journalists to raid a police station.

At the beginning of her term in 2010, President Laura Chinchilla promised that the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad would concentrate on organized crime and drugs. Past presidents have used the agency as a personal intelligence source basically to learn about any threats or political situations. There have been calls to abolish the agency with allegations of excessive wiretapping and other activities without oversight.

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